council for social action at launch of fund over its environmental festive lights
BY MIGUEL CULLEN
CARDINAL Cormac MurphyO'Connor has reminded Catholics that the voluntary sector is as important as the state sector in dealing with poverty and social exclusion.
He was speaking as he gave £50,000 in charitable grants for the St John Southworth Fund.
Emphasising the role of the Catholic Church in dealing with social problems the Cardinal said: "In our developed welfare state, the assumption is often made that politicians hold the answers to eradicating poverty.
"However, whilst it is essential that the state provides help and assistance, everyone has a part to play in taking responsibility to care for a neighbour in need it cannot be something which is left just to government."
The Cardinal added: "It is increasingly recognised that voluntary organisations are frequently more successful than state initiatives in supporting the most socially excluded in our society."
The fund will give £200,000 each year to organisations that tackle social problems.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Westminster said: "The Church role in aid is not as well recognised as it should be. Voluntary organisations can deal with things faster. They can see what the issues are, and help."
Speaking of the relationship between the state and voluntary sector in aid, he said. "We're not saying it's an 'either or' situation. The state has an extremely important role to play. However, it can't do everything."
The Cardinal reiterated the message of Pope Benedict XVI's recent encyclical on hope, Spe Salvi, saying its important message outlined the crucial role that the Church had to play in helping to fight poverty on a worldwide scale.
In his address the Cardinal spoke of the many ways the Catholic Church was helping within the London community: "Catholic voluntary organisations in London have a proud tradition of helping the poor and marginalised," he said.
The funds will be channelled towards poverty, old age and infirmity, homelessness, and children with disabilities. The £50,000 awarded this month will go towards seven different charities, among them the Kentish Town Parish Homeless Project, the Hornsey Trust. which helps support children with cerebral palsy and their families, and the Cenacolo drug rehabilitation project based at the Church of St Patrick, Soho Square. Auxiliary Bishop Bernard Langley, head of the Westrninster diocesan department of pastoral affairs, said: "The Catholic community already works through a wide range of organisations to help the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in London.
"The setting up of the St John Southworth Fund means that we will be able to respond flexibly and speedily to provide further funding to organisations which help homeless people, those who are deprived and children. Grants will aLso be available to help individuals in need."
A spokesman for one funding recipient, the Hornsey Trust, a specialist school for children with cerebral palsy and associated disabilities, said it was "thrilled" at receiving £10,000, saying it would allow the trust to set up a new preschool and outreach service.